Cover image for Meeting God : elements of Hindu devotion
Meeting God : elements of Hindu devotion
Huyler, Stephen P., 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
271 pages : color illustrations, color map ; 27 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL1226.2 .H89 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book enables western readers to witness the breadth and vitality of the reverential experience in India. With 200 colour illustrations to fire the imagination and eloquent descriptions of the wide scope of beliefs and practices, Huyler offers a deep understanding of the Hindu people, their daily worship experience and ways of meeting God.

Author Notes

Stephen P. Huyler is an art historian, a cultural anthropologist, and photographer

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like many another cultural anthropologist, Huyler has developed considerable photographic skills. They prove vital to his presentation of a dazzlingly colorful topic, Hindu religious rituals, or pujas. In each of nine chapters, Huyler first presents one person preparing for and practicing a puja, usually solitarily and usually near or at home but sometimes in a temple and with others, and then he explains its functions and meanings. Morning devotions, family worship (the family is of primary importance in Hinduism), healing rituals, sacred processions, festivals and holy days, and the spiritual preparations of old age for death are among the specific pujas discussed. The central Hindu concept of many gods expressing a single, universal divine principle surfaces often in the text, and Huyler's deep affection for the holy character of everyday life in Hindu India is plain. But 200 big color photos constitute the most powerful attraction of this complement to an exhibition that opens in Houston this fall and thereafter travels to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

For centuries, India's strict caste system prohibited many Hindus from worshipping their gods in a public way simply because lower caste Hindus could not afford the services of a brahmin (a priest). Yet Huyler, co-curator of the Puja: Expressions of Hindu Devotion exhibition at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, notes that these lower caste families and individuals found many ways to worship and to keep alive devotion to their own religion. In what is sure to become an enduring work, the author provides descriptions of the many devotional rituals that occupy Hindus as they seek darshan, seeing and being seen by God. In an opening chapter, Huyler explains the major concepts of Hindu devotions: puja, "a ceremonial act of showing reverence to a God or Goddess through invocation, prayer, song, and ritual"; dharma, "the supreme law of righteousness"; karma, "the doctrine of absolute responsibility"; varna, the caste system; Brahmanas, priests and their families. Using stories and photographs, Huyler describes the elements of public worship in a Hindu temple, the rituals accompanying worship in the home, the practices surrounding community festivals, processions that honor specific deities and the coming-of-age ceremonies that mark adolescence and old age. Photos grace every page: 200 in all, gorgeous full-color depictions of temples, household shrines, statuary of deities, sacred sites such as the Ganges River and people engaged in particular ritual activities and processions. Huyler's riveting prose and lavish photos bring Hinduism and its practices to life in all their richness and diversity. (Sept.) FYI: The book will accompany an exhibition that opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in fall 1999. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This book was written to accompany an exhibition titled "Puja: Expressions of Hindu Devotion," which the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery has put on tour. More a work of devotion than a didactic text, it displays the author's delight in his subject. Huyler, a photographer, art historian, and cocurator of the exhibition, spent many years working and traveling in India. In this book, he focuses sympathetically on individual Hindus, detailing their daily practice and worship and avoiding erudite matters of doctrine and cosmology. Each chapter begins with the narrative of some devotional observanceÄworship at the family shrine, for instance, or participation in a public festivalÄuntil, by the end, readers feel that they have grasped a little about how Hindus respond emotionally to God. The best basic introduction to contemporary Hinduism to appear in many years; recommended for both public and academic libraries.ÄJames F. DeRoche, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Thomas Moore
Forewordp. 10
Prefacep. 17
1 Concepts of Hindu Devotionp. 20
2 Approaching God: Elements of Worshipp. 44
3 The Soul of Family: Worship in the Homep. 64
4 Honoring the Spirit of Communityp. 90
5 Answered Prayers: The Evolution from Shrine to Templep. 114
6 Deities on Parade: Sacred Images in Processionp. 156
7 Embracing the Ephemeral: Transitory Imagesp. 174
8 Healing, Sacred Vows, and Possessionp. 208
9 The Final Stages: Old Age and Renunciationp. 232
Notesp. 254
Bibliographyp. 258
Glossaryp. 263
Acknowledgmentsp. 267
Indexp. 270